K Shanmugam Replies To Comments Online About The City Harvest Church Trial In Parliament
Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam has stood up to the unbridled hate and skepticism that have been shoveled upon the judges in the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial.
He says that jail sentences of between 7 months and 3 years and 6 months was enough for the six CHC board members who were found guilty of misappropriation of funds.
In response to the online dissent, Minister Shanmugam addressed the issue in Parliament Monday afternoon (5 Feb).
In case you can’t play the video, here is what Law Minister K Shanmugam had to say.
Through the house let me make one final comment.
We are aware that many have expressed their disastifaction with the outcome. Expressing one’s unhappiness with the court decision is fine, but it should not sink to the level of insult, abuse and contempt. We have seen comments online that the judges let off those who are rich, that some judges were lenient because they were Christians, and so on.
That is not right; judges should not be personally attacked, their integrity impugned just because people do not agree with their decision. There may be unhappiness. People are entitled to disagree with the decision. But let’s not attack the judges.
The government believes that the sentence are too low, but the sentences reflect the law as it stands after the high court’s decision last year, confirmed by the court of appeal. The court decides these matters, all of us have to respect the decision — regardless of whether we agree or disagree with it.
TLDR; we summarise it for you
- He acknowledges that the masses are unsatisfied by the inadequate sentencing
- The Government shares the same sentiments.
- Nonetheless, the judges are professional and working within their means
- Personal attacks on the judges’ integrity is not to be tolerated.
The speech concludes with him calling for everyone to respect the decision made, although we may not be able to accept it yet.
Why did he have to make that speech?
The outcome of the City Harvest Church trial released on last Thursday (1 Feb) was heavily criticised by most Singaporeans.
After all, even the judges described the sentence as “intuitively unsatisfactory”. Which is why netizens did not hesitate to question the credibility of the judiciary system.
These were some comments left on their Channel NewsAsia’s Facebook post which announced the result of the verdict.
There were doubts about the law.
Conspiracies about the rich being above the law surfaced.
Some wondered if religious affiliation gave rise to biasness.
Minister K Shanmugam had to address such ill sentiments to ensure that this scenario did not erode away Singaporeans’ trust in the judiciary system.
He also wish to reassure them that this would not happen again.
Forgive, but don’t forget
While some might feel that the CHC Six deserved heavier sentences for their actions, the Law Minister’s blatant admission simply reveals Singapore’s determination to work within the law.
All the judges could do at the time was to work within the rules specified, and deal out punishment as dictated.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal also acknowledged that there is a gap in the law, and the Parliament will soon fix this gap.
Hopefully, the new updated law is able to prevent such cases from happening again.
If you want to get up to date with the ruling for this current trail however, feel free to check out our handy infographic here.
Here's a useful summary of the City Harvest Case.FYI, it's officially the second longest trial in Singapore's history. 😲
Featured image from Channel NewsAsia.